( In honor of my mother’s favorite: Chopin )
I never wanted to be like my mother.
Not because she isn’t an amazing woman, but because I felt that I never had it in me to be as giving as she is.
My earliest childhood memory is of me sitting in a high chair, shaking a flower noisemaker, watching my mother do laundry. I was 2 to 3 years old and we lived in Argentina. It was freezing that day, and as I sat there bundled up, my mother washed all of my family’s clothes by hand, in the sink outside. We had no running water, especially not hot running water. I can just imagine how painful it was for my mother, who hates the cold, to have to wash our clothes by hand with freezing water on a daily basis.
As I grew older, I continued to experience my mother’s amazing giving nature. Not only in the way she gave so much to her family and kept so little for herself, but how she did the same for others as well.
I’ve seen my mother drop everything, including many possible careers, to follow my dad around the world and help many people in need as a missionary. The woman of all traits, my mother learned to do a million-and-one things to survive- once a teacher, a painter, a musician, a choir conductor, a seamstress, a hairstylist, a nail artist, a maid, a delivery woman, a college student, and most recently a Spanish teacher. There is nothing my mother would not do to help support her family. Her love was and continues to be so big that I know she would sacrifice anything to make her family happy.
Recently I called my mother on the phone to talk to her about a difficult situation in my life. We talked for hours, it seemed, her comforting words bringing me to tears that I could not control: “We’ve had a tough life in this country,” she said, “but it will be ok. I don’t know why things are always so difficult for us, but everything will be alright, you’ll see.”
Never one to complain, to give up, to tell me my problems were, in large part, my own fault. My mother always tries to understand, even if she does not agree with what I have done. My mother’s true love, I’ve learned, will never shun her daughters or sons. No. Matter. What.
But as wonderful as my mother has always been, I can also say that I’ve seen her grow these past 13 years we’ve lived in this country. She has learned to fight for her own right to have a career, and in turn, she has found her voice. I am proud of what she has accomplished, and all the struggles she’s had to overcome to have the right to hold an American diploma in her hands.
In turn, somewhere along these past 13 years, I promised myself that I would become all I could be so that one day, I can give my mother everything, and much more, than all she has given me.
No, I never wanted to be like my mother because I saw how hard it was for her to give everything to others and keep nothing to herself.
But maybe when I become a mother, I’ll be just like mine.
I can only hope to be as strong one day.
Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom I would’ve never been wise enough to ask for!
From left to right: My sister, my mom & I